Pajeon is a Korean savory pancake made with scallions. Pa means scallion, and jeon means pan-fried battered food. A popular variation of pajeon is haemul pajeon, which is made with seafood. Pajeon is one of Koreans’ all-time favorite snacks or appetizers to share when gathered around the table with friends and family. Everyone always loves it!
Commercially available pancake mix (buchim garu, 부침가루) is a pantry staple in Korean homes. It is seasoned and typically includes flour and other ingredients such as corn starch, rice flour and baking powder for a crispy texture. Sometimes, Korean home cooks combine pancake mix with frying mix (twuigim garu, 튀김가루) for extra crispy pancakes. Try it if you have a bag of frying mix, using a 1:1 ratio.
However, you can easily make pancake mix from scratch at home. Starting with flour, simply add rice flour and/or corn starch along with a little bit of baking powder if you have any. Add some minced garlic and ginger (or powder), and season with salt.
Usually, a combination of seafood, such as squid, shrimp, mussels, oysters and clams, is used, but you can simply use any one (or two) of them.
There are different ways to pan fry scallion pancakes. Sometimes, I combine everything together in the mix before pan-frying. Other times, I only mix the seafood in the batter and then later add the scallions on top when frying. Some people put the scallions first in the pan to crisp up and then spread the batter and the seafood on top. Try these different techniques and see which one you like.
The biggest question everyone asks is how to make pajeon extra crispy. There are a few things you should remember. We already talked about the addition of corn starch and/or rice powder. You should also use icy cold water to make the batter. Use a generous amount of oil, and turn the heat up a little to finish it up.
- 1-1/2 cups assortment of seafood (squid, shrimp, mussels, oysters, clams, etc.), cut into bite sizes
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 bunch (or 2 if small) scallions, cut in half lengthwise
- 1/2 red chili pepper, thinly sliced – optional
- 1/2 green chili pepper, thinly sliced – optional
- 1 egg, lightly beaten - optional
- 1 cup Korean pancake mix (buchim garu, 부침가루)
- (or 3/4 flour, 2 tablespoons rice (or sweet rice) flour, 2 tablespoons potato or cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon salt)
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger finely minced (or juiced)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- pinch of black pepper
- pinch of gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes)
- Prepare the seafood, scallions, and optional peppers, draining the excess water. (Wet ingredients will make pajeon soggy.) Mix the seafood with the sesame oil.
- In a large bowl, mix the pancake mix with 3/4 cup icy cold water and the egg. Add a little more water until the batter is slightly thick but still runny. (For crispy pajeon, the batter should be relatively thin.) Mix in 2/3 of the seafood.
- Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat, ladle 1/2 of the mixture into the pan and spread it evenly into a thin round shape.
- Arrange the scallions in a single layer on top of the batter, and add 1/2 of the remaining seafood and a few slices of the optional peppers.
- Spoon one half of the optional lightly beaten egg on top. Cook until the bottom is golden brown (3 – 4 minutes), and turn it over, adding more oil (2 to 3 tablespoons). Turn up the heat briefly to medium high to crisp up the pancakes.
- Press it down with a spatula, and cook for another 3 – 4 minutes. Repeat the process with the remaining batter and ingredients. Serve hot off the pan with dipping sauce.
- You can mix everything with the batter and follow the direction above for pan-frying.